In lactating mammary epithelial cells, interaction between caseins is believed to occur after their transport out of the endoplasmic reticulum. We show here that, in alpha(S1)-casein-deficient goats, the rate of transport of the other caseins to the Golgi apparatus is highly reduced whereas secretion of whey proteins is not significantly affected. This leads to accumulation of immature caseins in distended rough endoplasmic reticulum cisternae. Casein micelles, nevertheless, were still observed in secretory vesicles. In contrast, no accumulation was found in mammary epithelial cells which lack beta-casein. In mammary epithelial cells secreting an intermediate amount of alpha(S1)-casein, less casein accumulated in the rough endoplasmic reticulum, and the transport of alpha(S1)-casein to the Golgi occurred with kinetics similar to that of control cells. In prolactin-treated mouse mammary epithelial HC11 cells, which do not express alpha(S)-caseins, endoplasmic reticulum accumulation of beta-casein was also observed. The amount of several endoplasmic reticulum-resident proteins increased in conjunction with casein accumulation. Finally, the permeabilization of rough endoplasmic reticulum vesicles allowed the recovery of the accumulated caseins in soluble form. We conclude that optimal export of the caseins out of the endoplasmic reticulum is dependent upon alpha(S1)-casein. Our data suggest that alpha(S1)-casein interacts with the other caseins in the rough endoplasmic reticulum and that the formation of this complex is required for their efficient export to the Golgi.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists